Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice

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Monday, October 29, 2012

What is Industrial Relations? (Part III) Definition of employment relationship and Industrial Relations

    Employment Relationship is defined by Cambridge Dictionary as "Behaviour and communication between an employee and their employer, especially relating to employees' rights and their happiness in their jobs. The program is aimed at providing managers with the knowledge and skills they need to maintain good employment relations." And "employee relationship is a A broad term used to refer to the general management, organizations' administration and planning of activities related to developing, maintaining and improving employee relationships by communicating with employees, processing grievances/disputes, training and development of HR etc. (Human Resource IQ -www.humanresourceiq.com )". Industrial relations start with the employment relationship. This starts as soon as a person is willing to accept compensation for in exchange for work which is defined as contract employment. This relationship has a legal dimension that is governed by Labor Legislation. For examples management has to pay wages and salaries, provide leaves, safe working conditions and other duties defined by the law. Not to unjustly discriminate workers. It is not only the law, but also the fairness. The legal nature of the employment relationship means there are rights and obligations on both sides. Employees are obligated to obey legitimate work related instructions, to be honest and to promote the business of the employer with regards to the Job description and the title. The employment relationship is embodied in the contract of employment, and is an individual relationship between employer and employee. It has a legal protection rather than a job and a document of contact of employment. Industrial relations begin with the employment relationship but moves beyond the employment relationship. Without the employment relationship there will be no industrial relations.

    Industrial relations usually involve and consider employees as a group and employers as a group. The decisions taken by employers and managers are affecting on industrial relations; e.g.: Opening or closing down of a workplace, introducing new technology or work organization, allocating a specific distribution of profits are some of them. Decisions taken by employees are also affecting  the industrial relations such as strikes, immediate leave without following proper way, and not doing the job in working time.

What is Industrial Relation?

    There are several definitions for industrial relation from the past. Definitions are not clear at all, so there are many disagreements on selecting one general definition. Many specialists defined the term of Industrial Relation and some accepted definitions are mentioned below.

    Professor Barnash (1954) defined IR as “Area of study and practice concerned with the administration of the employment function in modern public and private enterprise. This function involves workers, unions, managers, government and various publics”.

    In this definition, it considered workers, unions, managers, government, and “various public” as a single function (but present days they are considering as different functions). Still there is administration rather than management of people involving, and considering it as a separate function apart from above function of ‘employment’ mentioned in the definition. This is correct, but sometimes this single function is acting as a separate bunch of functions, working separately to get in to one core of a goal or achieve one main objective.

    Professor Margerison (1969) defined it as “The study of people in a situation, organization or system interacting in the doing of work in relation to some form of contract, written or unwritten… the essential element in all industrial relations is conflict…. The nature and development conflict itself.”
    Written or unwritten contracts and ‘situations’ are the major parts of this definition. For the first time there was concern about the situations and unwritten contracts. It opened a new door to the industrial relations. In this study, it was accepted the conflicts are occurring due to many reasons when practicing industrial relations. It became to a true in present situations.

Hyman (1975) has defined IR as “Industrial Relation is the study of process of control over work relations”. Industrial relation also is a process of understand the relationship between employer and employee as well as other functions influence to them.

    Flanders (1975) defined IR as “The relations between the enterprise and its employees and among those employees themselves… the study of industrial relations may therefore be described as a study of the institutions of job regulation”. As per this definition it was taken all the functions of employer, management etc., as an enterprise. It was good to consider the relationships of the employees among them self, because it also affecting to the general behavior of relationship in the industry.

    Deery and Plowman described IR in 1985 as “….in its broadest sense industrial relations is about the behavior and interaction of people at work. It is concerned with how individuals, groups, organizations and institutions make decisions which shape the employment relationship between management and labor”

    In here they gave a broad sense to the industrial relations, and it depends on the behaviors, past experiences, approaches and the way dealing with the functions which involved in the industrial relations. Labor is considered same as worker, but has more legally protected background, acceptance and reputation than worker.

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